The United States had approved a grant for a media company started by a Palestinian journalist who died last week after being wounded by Israeli fire while covering protests along the Israel-Gaza border, the US State Department said on Tuesday.
Yasser Murtaja, 30, was a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, a production company he co-founded. Photos showed him lying wounded on a stretcher wearing a navy-blue protective vest marked “PRESS” in large capital letters.
Incredible new video from Palestinian rapper MC Gaza filmed on the front lines of the #GreatMarchOfReturn. He dedicated the video to his friend Yasser Murtaja, the journalist an Israeli sniper shot and killed last Friday. https://t.co/W7rvvcrgBy pic.twitter.com/07LtBGfjLY
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 10, 2018
The United States has not yet commented on his shooting.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had approved $11,700 in grant funding for Ain Media last month under a program that supports private sector development.
The official said the grant was for technical assistance and equipment, such as computers.
I feel so sad to have learned about the death of Palestinian photojournalist Yasser Murtaja in Gaza today, killed by Israeli live fire. I was privileged to know Yasser – he was a kind, caring man, who welcomed me in Gaza during 2011. He will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/mSYzuIW1s4
— Rori Donaghy (@roridonaghy) April 6, 2018
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Murtaja had been vetted under US government guidelines.
“We are aware of reports that a journalist operating in Gaza was killed in the clashes in Gaza. I don’t have specifics about his particular case, but we are looking into it,” Nauert told a regular press briefing.
The Israeli military has said that the Israeli Defense Force did not intentionally target journalists.
The Israeli government has said that many of those killed in the protests were militants and that Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the West, was using the protests as cover to launch attacks along the border.
— Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) April 11, 2018
Asked whether US. government guidelines would allow a member of Hamas to receive USAID funding, Nauert said, “I don’t know the specifics of the case.”
She repeated calls by Washington for “a peaceful dialogue” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Certainly the events of the past week and a half have been very troubling,” she added.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)